Factors influencing custody decisions in contested adoption cases

Eleanor W. Willemsen, Marcus Boccaccini, Dustin Pardini

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In a number of recent controversial adoption cases, courts have been forced to decide if an unwed father should be granted custody of his child when the mother purposely fails to inform him of the child's birth or of her intention to place the child for adoption. The current study utilized three bivariate independent variables from which eight vignettes were created depicting scenarios modeled on actual court cases. It was conducted as a preliminary investigation intended to examine the factors which are important to people when making custody decisions, to see if the importance of these factors varies with circumstance, and to examine their concurrence with factors utilized injudicial decisions. The results suggest that although subjects stress the importance of characteristics associated with being a good parent, the specific circumstances of each separate case and also the subject's gender have influential effects on custody decisions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)127-147
Number of pages21
JournalChild and Adolescent Social Work Journal
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 1 1999
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • General Social Sciences


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